27 April 2022

Coming back from maternity leave

Ruth Henderson provides advice to women members returning to the workplace after maternity leave

My maternity leave is nearly over and I’m ready to come back to work. What are my rights?
If you’ve taken up to 26 weeks maternity leave, you should be offered your original job back. You’ll also have the right to request a change of hours.

If you’ve taken more than that you should also normally return to your original job, but if it’s not possible, you should be offered one at your substantive grade and in the same location. If there are any difficulties with this, please get in touch with your local PCS representative.

My maternity leave is nearly over, and I don’t want to ever see my department again. I’m looking for work elsewhere. What are my rights?
You’ll still have to follow your department’s policies for resigning. It’s likely that you will have had contractual pay (a top-up to standard maternity pay) during your maternity leave, so if you do not return to work for a specified time after your leave you may be required to give back that portion of your pay. Check your department’s terms and conditions for this.


  • You will build up annual leave as usual over your maternity leave, so you may be able to use that and flexi if your department offers it to cover the time required.
  • Some people choose to take a career break at the end of maternity leave to figure out their options. This is unpaid but would give you time to decide on what to do next and means you don’t have to pay back your contractual pay straight away.
  • If you are happy to go back to work as a civil servant but just don’t want your previous role, this is the time to start applying for other government department roles (OGD) or for either promotions or sideways moves.

Before you make any decisions, speak to a PCS representative, and discuss what you feel would be best for you.